e-Mental health - A guide for GPs

What is e-mental health?
☰ Table of contents

The term e-mental health refers to the use of the internet and related electronic communication technologies to deliver mental health information, services and care.1–3

Various e-mental health applications have been developed, including:18

  • instant messaging or video-based counselling services (also known as telehealth, telemedicine or telepsychiatry)
  • consumer information portals
  • online support groups, forums and social networks
  • online assessment or diagnostic tools
  • blogs and podcasts
  • therapeutic gaming programs, robotic simulation and virtual reality systems.

e-Mental health: A guide for GPs (the Guide) will focus on e-mental health interventions, which are highly structured online programs that aim to improve users’ mental health by enhancing their knowledge and skills.18 These programs generally rely on a framework of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but they may also include elements of other established psychological treatments traditionally delivered in a face-to-face format, such as acceptance and commitment therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, solution-focused therapy, mindfulness-based therapies and motivational interviewing. e-Mental health interventions are sometimes called computerised or internet CBT (cCBT or iCBT), web-based or internet-based therapy, or e-interventions.

To use an e-mental health intervention, the user will visit a secure website via a computer, smartphone or tablet to view and download educational material and engage in therapeutic activities. Most programs are arranged into a series of lessons or modules accessed in a particular order, with ‘homework’ activities to assist the individual to consolidate learning and practice new skills.20 Many use a range of multimedia, such as text, graphics, audio and video, and interactive elements, such as self-assessment and self-monitoring tools.18

  1. Eysenbach G. What is e-health? J Med Internet Res 2001;3(2):e20.
  2.  Oh H, Rizo C, Enkin M, Jadad A. What is eHealth (3): A systematic review of published definitions. J Med Internet Res 2005;7(1):e1.
  3. Riper H, Andersson G, Christensen H, Cuijpers P, Lange A, Eysenbach G. Theme issue on e-mental health: a growing field in internet research. J Med Internet Res 2010;12(5):e74.
  4. Barak A, Klein B, Proudfoot JG. Defining internet-supported therapeutic interventions. Ann Behav Med 2009;38(1):4–17.
  5. Andrews G. We can manage depression better with technology. Aust Fam Physician 2014;43(12):838–41.